No dig bed problem

Hi everyone,

So happy to be on here not trawling through utube or google trying to find the answer to my question

So … I am experimenting this year with a couple of ‘no dig’ beds
I put the cardboard down for one & it already breaking up & coming up through the mulch/compost on top - do I take off the mulch & put some more cardboard on top ? Or pile on more mulch ?
I’ve used a strong plastic on one bed to see which works better - I’ve not planted anything yet fortunately

Any advice greatfully received

Happy Planting


Welcome to the community! Do you mean weeds are coming up through or just that the cardboard is showing through the compost?

If the latter, I would scrape back some compost, put the card back down and then recover. Consider wetting the card to help it stay flat or even weigh it down with some stones or bricks around the corners and edges.

Hi, thanks for your advice.

The weeds haven’t started to come through - it like the cardboard is breaking up ( maybe birds have pecked it ?) & pieces are starting to float to the surface :woman_shrugging:
Also the utube video I first watched said you could lay plastic & then mulch on top of that ( which I did for one bed ) I’ve read today that your not supposed to use plastic on a different page - it’s all a bit confusing ( obvs cutting down on plastic for environmental issues is good ) maybe I ought to take the mulch off - get rid of the plastic & use cardboard instead ???

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I have raised beds and placed cardboard at the bottom and filled them with compost, then over the last 3 years I just added a layer of compost in the month of December. Currently they’re covered with black plastic cheering which blocks and prevents weeds growing. It’s actually done the trick.

Cardboard will decompose over time and disappear into the soil. Whereas plastic will not.

You can bury plastic covers with bark chip or stone but with soil, weeds will just grow over the top of them. So they’re either used for stopping all things growing, or over the tip of everything to cover areas while not in use, such as over winter.

I prefer deteriorating card covers or heavy mulches of compost. I would just re-bury the card or wet it. For the plastic, pull it back up and lay it over the top until ready to use :+1:

Hi - if you’re doing No Dig, then the method is to put cardboard on top of the ground, and then cover with a thick layer of compost or manure. The reason for using the cardboard is to kill off the weeds underneath. It’ll gradually rot away. If it’s coming through you probably haven’t put enough compost / manure on top. Charles Dowding is the No Dig guru, his videos are usually very good and clear.Good Luck!

PS here’s link to one of Charles’ videos showing how to make a No Dig bed


Thankyou for your response - I think I’ve done my plastic ones the wrong way round - never mind - I can pull out the plastic sheet - pile on the compost & lay the plastic back over until I’m ready to plant - not long now :+1::+1::pray:

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Hi Ruth,
Thankyou for your helpful advice :pray:

I think what I’ve done wrong is put compost straight on top of the cardboard when I should have used manure first then added the compost ( which is light on top of that )
I think I’ll start again with my two trial no dig beds - as someone has just had a pile of manure delivered & I can help myself :+1:
& yes I’ll check out Charles D
Have a great sowing season ! :pray:

It’s ok to put the manure on top, basically the more organic matter (compost or manure) the more weighed down the card will be.

If you can add a photo it will help us to see how it looks :blush:

You don’t need to put plastic on top - it doesn’t achieve anything… the manure / compost will rot down gradually on its own; it doesn’t matter if it’s rained on. Save yourself the bother!